Pre-Summit Report: Why isn't the UN dealing with Boko Haram effectively?

Posted by Unknown on Saturday, July 12, 2014 with No comments
The Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, has been active in Nigeria for the past twelve years, but recently they have been causing rampant destruction and widespread casualties.  Despite President Goodluck Jonathan declaring a state of emergency in May 2013, the number of deaths has tripled to 2,265.  On April 13-14, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from a boarding school and so far, in spite of international co-operation and the Nigerian government’s assurances, they have not been found. 
The situation in Nigeria is complicated: The Nigerian military has had a notorious human rights record in the past, and there is distrust among the people. The military is lacking in essential equipment, modern training and motivation. Nigeria's army has admitted that it is finding it difficult to combat the terrorist group, attributing many of the problems to inadequate funding.  
 Meanwhile Boko Haram is reported to be receiving funds from Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Iran.  Boko Haram has also been suspected of having connections with Al-Qaeda and its allies. There is a deep conflict between the Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, leading to social, economic and religious unrest.  
The Nigerian government so far has been very reluctant to accept significant foreign aid, though the U.S., U.K., France, and China have offered their advanced satellite technology to track the girls. 
 The UN took its first step against the terrorist sect when the UN Security Council voted to blacklist Boko Haram as an international terrorist organisation. Boko Haram is now subject to UN sanctions, including an arms embargo and an asset freeze.  It is still unclear how sanctions will be imposed, however, as Boko Haram gets a lot of its supplies through Nigeria's porous borders and makes its purchases in cash. 
 Video evidence has emerged showing the abducted girls are being mistreated and sold as slaves. Girls as young as age 11-12 are being taken as wives to the Boko Haram members. Desperate parents have given up hope of any government action and are pleading for international aid.  ‘Due to extreme fear and severe conditions, parents will be too scared to send their children to school now” said Franko Majok, whose 14 year old daughter was kidnapped. 
Why should we care about the Nigerian girls? Because the attack in Nigeria is part of a global backlash against girls’ education. The Pakistani Taliban shot 15 year old Malala Yousafazi in the head. Extremists threw acid in the faces of girls walking to school in Afghanistan. And in Nigeria, militants destroyed 50 schools in the last year alone.  An entire nation of Nigerian girls will not receive education. 
The U.S. already gives $1 million every year to the Nigerian military, but no one knows if this money is really being used to fight Boko Haram. Aid is not the solution, it is time for the UN to directly intervene.  
I urge the UN to adopt a resolution under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter which allows the Council to "determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and to take military and non-military action to "restore international peace and security”.  There is international precedent. The UN has previously intervened in Iraq, Somalia and Haiti. 
Simultaneously there should be talks beginning between members of the Security Council and Nigeria, to persuade the government to accept international help. However, military action is not a long term solution: ideologies are not tackled through sending troops. Nigeria needs to unite its people against Boko Haram. No more hashtags, posters and empty promises. Bring back our girls. 

Maya Patra

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